Many of us are immature when it comes to using social media. You’ll find the political set making blunders and fugitives exposing themselves. I’ve met preeminent scientists and Harvard professors who are terrified by Twitter, and self-proclaimed networkers who only have 5 contacts on LinkedIn.
At Bright Green Talent, we help people find green jobs—and we hear frustration from both employers and jobseekers. Certainly job searching is potentially easier. At the touch of a button on the larger jobsites—such as Monster, Dice or Simplyhired—I can now find 3,778 perfect jobs, and send over my CV in a matter of seconds.
But there’s a downside: ease-of-use has created a flood of applications that devalue each interaction; this makes job searching easier, but it also makes finding a job more difficult—the traditional, linear job search has been replaced by a tangled, Gordian knot.
Part of the problem is that social media and the web enable breathless laziness. Jobseekers curse the online recruitment labyrinth, but many of them have probably contributed to that maze by sending their resumes over for a job they know they’re not going to get. I’d guess that about 60 percent of resumes we see at Bright Green Talent are plainly not a good fit for the role advertised. Yes, that’s right: 60 percent!
But social media can be hugely powerful—IF they are used wisely, mindfully, and perhaps moderately. Obama’s presidential campaign might be the best-known example of someone securing a job through social media. I’m not a social media pessimist… just a grouch.
Here is a small collection of our recommendations for those using social media for professional purposes. Simple, perhaps obvious, but regularly overlooked:
- Demonstrate judgment when requesting a link to someone or accepting someone’s request. Ask yourself: Would I feel comfortable contacting this individual on behalf of another friend or introducing him or her to my mother?
- Fix your privacy settings to keep the wrong people from being able to find you—moms, especially—unless you’re as confident of their ineptness as I am.
- Rely on high-quality interactions. Don’t let the impersonal nature of social interaction online affect your integrity—gracious people in person can become demons online. Try to interact with people as you would face-to-face.
- Recruiters and employers are increasingly using social media to find people. Tweeting things like “omg SO hungover for interview this morning; hope they didn’t notice” is hilarious to the interviewers—but they’re laughing at you, not with you.
- Social networking should accentuate getting to know, or doing business with someone—don’t overdo it. Leave people wanting more, rather than less!
- “Meeting” people online DOES NOT EQUAL knowing them, see this nice little video from meetup for inspiration (ironically an online site promoting offline meetings):
If you’ve read this far, you probably want to use social media to benefit the environment, and there’s no point saving it if you don’t spend time in it. Use your online presence wisely. Ask yourself whether you’re creating meaning, deepening friendships and building value.